BECU's Teams Tackle Variety of Fraud Risks

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TUKWILA, Wash. — At $9 billion in assets BECU is a big target for fraud, and it has nine people divided into several teams staffing its security risk department.

John Snodgrass, who serves as the credit union's security risk manager and compliance officer for both Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering efforts, told Credit Union Journal his teams are both monitoring fraud internally and working fraud cases submitted by members.

"One group talks with members, gets them credited and taken care of, while another group works the suspect side, filing cases and getting these people brought to justice," he said. "We also deal with Bank Secrecy Act compliance and money laundering."

Due to the volume, plastic cards get extra attention. BECU employs several monitoring systems, Falcon being one of them.

"We subscribe to Falcon through CO-OP. When transactions are taking place they are being scored for their likelihood of fraud. Falcon in general flags suspicious MasterCard debit transactions until something reaches a point where it needs to be examined."

Falcon has an upgraded, real-time decisioning system that allows BECU to decline transactions from a certain area, he continued. As fraud comes in and hits that criteria, Falcon can automatically decline it. "Every day we have people examining these declines and looking at the fraud that happens each day."

BECU issues Visa cards through another processor which has its own security, including Falcon. Snodgrass said the credit union also has a series of in-house tools that monitor activity based on the fraud trends its security team is seeing locally.

"This also is real-time, which allows us to monitor ATM transactions or unusual deposits," he said, noting in addition to everything else, it also has "people here looking at the other side of the shop, which includes any PIN-based or deposit activity."

For the most part, Snodgrass said he feels "pretty confident" in BECU's controls. "Do we get targeted every once in a while? Of course, everybody does. We quickly identify potential threats, and when something comes up we quickly take steps to get ahead of the curve. One example is noticing fraud with a common point of purchase, and we then identify impacted cards and take steps to mitigate losses."

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